June 5, 2009
Its influence has permeated down the generations. It’s been adapted in song to varying degrees by Blur, Radiohead, British Sea Power, Gavin Bryars and in verse by Carol Ann Duffy and Seamus Heaney. It’s been sampled by Beck and Terence Davies, all seeking to capture some of its curious haunting essence. What is it that gives what’s essentially a glorified weather report a seeming magic? Darran Anderson on The Shipping Forecast.
May 18, 2009
His version of ‘Falling’ from Twin Peaks is initially hilarious and disconcerting, so much does it subvert the original, but on repeated listening it reveals a certain beauty and charm. De-synthed, he strips it down to its bones, speeds it up into a kind of bluegrass version with its own jaunty power, substituting the mesmerising quality for something more fun. Darran Anderson on Thomas Truax.
February 29, 2008
In his absence, Dark was the Night has had a life of its own. Inspired, in part, by an English hymn by clergyman Thomas Haweis (“Dark was the night, and cold the ground / On which the Lord was laid / His sweat like drops of blood ran down / In agony he prayed”), it is a largely wordless lament for the last hours of Christ, from Gethsemane to Golgotha. It’s night music, best listened to in the rare dark hours that the modern world allows us as a slight reprieve from daylight, work and money, cinematic in the thoughts it conjures up, heart-breaking and exquisite in equal measure. It’s returned in Piero Paulo Pasolini‘s classic The Gospel According to St. Matthew (soundtracking the last moments of a repentant broken Judas), the aforementioned Ry Cooder’s soundtrack to Paris, Texas and is echoed in the songs of Tom Waits. Darran Anderson on Blind Willie Johnson.
September 18, 2007
'Vitamin C’ is the clincher: some beyond belief drum-skills from Liebzeit and he inadvertently invents the breakbeat and the future of hip-hop a decade early, Suzuki in roaring form (“Hey you! You’re losing, you’re losing, you’re losing your Vitamin C!”). Drop the song into any hip-hop set even now and it’d be at once seemless and capable of causing jaws to drop. By the time the chanson-style coda brings the song to a close, you’re realising the true influence of Can on what was the future and is now the present for us, it simply sounds like nothing else at the time it was made and everything now. Like those old Da Vinci sketches of flying machines or submarines, Can saw the future before it was really possible. The rest of the world just needed to catch up. By Darran Anderson.
July 27, 2007
If the odes to sex and junk and the suggestions that Jesus enjoyed threesomes weren’t enough to have Middle America frothing at the gums the cover of the album would. Having been burned by the reaction to Nothing’s Shocking, compromise was off the cards. Framed by an altarpiece adorned with semi-voodoo relics of the Santaria religion, Perry had constructed three papier-mache sculptures depicting him, Casey and Xiola naked in a menage a trois. A powerful heartfelt work of art, it nevertheless ensured the album was banned in thousands of stores nationwide. Disgusted, the band issued a version with a cover simply consisting of the text of the First Amendment of the Constitution promising ‘freedom of speech’ as a God-given right to all American citizens. Darran Anderson on Jane's Addiction's Ritual de lo Habitual.
June 9, 2007
It’s impossible to ever truly know In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. It’s been compared to T.S Eliot‘s The Wasteland, in the sense that it’s a labyrinthine work that can be endlessly analysed but never completely understood. A miasma of fiction and memory, it shifts continually; a Phantasmagoria whirling through a thousand mystifying images, one minute raw and confessional, the next exhilarating and eccentric. Recorded during storms and semi-destitution, it has a unique combination of the intimate and the unreal, that makes it impossible to either simply like or dislike. It inspires hatred or adoration with every atom of your being. And in an age of diet soul and mortgage rock, we need such extremes. Theodore Adorno wrote that after the Holocaust, there can be no poetry. He was wrong. There must be, all the more so. And this, in eleven tracks like nothing else in recorded music, is the proof. Darran Anderson on Neutral Milk Hotel.
November 28, 2006
Between the two extremes is arguably his finest work Songs From A Room, an elegiac existential album bound together by a strange timeless bohemian atmosphere, songs that sound like they could have been sung in the fin-de-siecle bars of Montmartre back when the world was black and white. Detached from what was going on to the west his work took on an appealing outsider quality. There are no clumsy protest songs or embarrassing flower people nonsense in Cohen’s Sixties works precisely because, to all intents and purposes, he was in another century when he began to write them. You can hear in the maturity and grace of his lines that he has lived and that he has forged a certain wisdom far enough from the whirlwind. Darran Anderson on Leonard Cohen.